I tested Amex’s new ‘Split It’ feature — here’s what you need to know
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Back in October 2019, American Express launched a new way to split purchases with contacts through the app using Venmo or PayPal. The new feature was meant to help do some of the legwork of splitting the bill while letting you keep all of the associated Amex Membership Rewards. You could split both pending and posted Amex transactions with up to 20 contacts.
Now that the dust has settled around the new feature’s launch, I tested it out on my American Express® Gold Card, which comes with a $250 annual fee (See rates & fees), with two friends at lunch to see how seamless the process really is.
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In order to split payments, you first have to enroll in the feature and connect your Venmo or PayPal account. From there, once you make a purchase, you can click on the transaction in the app and a “Split It” option should appear.
From there, you can choose whether to use PayPal or Venmo. I only have my Venmo account linked since I don’t use PayPal to send/request money.
Then, you’ll be asked to add contacts. You can manually input an email or phone number, or you can hit the + sign to choose a contact from your phone.
Amex automatically splits the bill equally between all contacts added, but you can also go in and manually change what each person will pay. Because posted transactions aren’t itemized, you will have to do that math on your own to decide who pays what. That’s not a huge turnoff for me (I would have to do that if I went through Venmo or PayPal anyway), but it is something to keep in mind.
One feature I did appreciate is the ability to adjust the total amount to account for a tip or other fees that may not be included in the transaction amount posted to your Amex account. You can input a custom amount, or you can choose one of four percentage-based adjustments (which would be great for adding tips into a grand total).
Once you’ve set up the correct total and split the payment how you want among contacts, Amex will send to Venmo/PayPal to review and make the official request. Once you’ve completed that step, you’ll be sent back to the Amex app for the confirmation page.
Both Alex and David (the friends who went to lunch with me) got notifications instantly with the request for payment. On their end, it worked exactly how a standard Venmo money request would work.
You can keep track of who has paid you through the Amex app. If you go to the account tab at the bottom of the app screen, there is a “Split Purchases” section you can click to view transactions that you’ve split and their details. Once your requests for the split payment have been fulfilled, the money will show up in your connected Venmo or PayPal account. You’ll keep the all of the rewards for yourself.
My take on the new feature
This is an easy feature to use, and it’s nice to be able to request money through the Amex app. My only real complaint is that money requested just goes into your Venmo or PayPal account. In order for me to apply payments from friends to the purchase that was split, I have to go into my Venmo account, transfer my balance to my bank account, and then make a payment to my general Amex account. In that regard, using Amex to send the request doesn’t add much value over just doing it myself through Venmo (which is what I’ve done countless times with no complaints before this Amex feature was launched).
In my opinion, the main value-add of this feature is the ability to easily track who has and hasn’t paid you for a certain split purchase. For example, a group of my friends does an annual lake day trip where we pool money and rent party barges on nearby Lake Norman in North Carolina. Generally, one person pays for the entire boat rental on one card, and then all attendees just Venmo them our share of the cost. Venmo doesn’t really have a great way to track larger split payments like that, which can make it hard to tell how has or has not paid. This new feature from Amex does offer a way to track payments to know who all has contributed. Plus, if you are splitting up a larger payment (such as bills or an event like our lake day where everyone pays an equal amount), it’s nice that Amex will do an even split that can include a tip so that you don’t have to do that math.
The terms and conditions of the feature do state that additional functionality should be added to this feature in September 2020. This does mean existing users will have to re-enroll at that time, but hopefully, the new functionality will make this an even more enticing benefit for Amex cardholders.
Featured image by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy
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